Hooded protesters and members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad) of the Police clashed this Monday in the Plaza de Bolívar in the center of Bogotá, where they were beginning to arrive thousands of people who came out to protest against the Government from Colombia for various reasons.
The protest, mostly peaceful, was marred by the actions of vandals who ripped cobblestones from Carrera VII to throw them at the cops located outside the Palace of Justice.
Although some protesters stood between the uniformed and the vandals, whom they asked them to stop attacking the policemen, The tension grew and Esmad intervened when a few meters away another group destroyed an agency of the Banco Caja Social.
At that moment, the police squad threw tear gas and the massive protest dispersed through the streets of the historic center of Bogotá.
“Vandals destroy and violently enter a financial institution in the center of Bogotá, which forces the intervention of the Police Esmad to restore order,” Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said on Twitter. “The National Government respects the peaceful demonstration but cannot allow violence and vandalism,” he added.
The National Government respects the peaceful demonstration but cannot allow violence and vandalism. @PoliceColombia acted to protect citizens, as well as public and private infrastructure from vandalism and violence in Plaza de Bolívar and Cra 7 with Cll 12. pic.twitter.com/DkPTmtsDHx
– Carlos Holmes Trujillo (@CarlosHolmesTru) September 21, 2020
The mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, said that at 4:45 p.m. (local time) Esmad intervened “for the first time in the day by vandalism” in acts that left no injuries.
“Peace of mind has been restored. The Plaza de Bolívar is still open for citizens who have been marching peacefully in the direction of the square, “Lopez said on Twitter.
4:45 pm the ESMAD had to intervene for the first time that day due to an act of vandalism on Cra 7ma with 12th street; there are no injuries and tranquility has been restored.
The Plaza de Bolívar remains open to citizens who have been marching peacefully in the direction of the Plaza. pic.twitter.com/rzoVR881Kj
– Claudia López 👍 (@ClaudiaLopez) September 21, 2020
The mayor, who is against the use of police force in the demonstrations, added that her administration had warned that it guaranteed peaceful protests but “in the face of any vandalism or violent act, Esmad has authorization to intervene with gases, without lethal weapons “.
Since November of last year a movement called the National Unemployment Committee brings together unions and society groups that promote protests against the social and economic policy of President Iván Duque, groups have joined against police brutality and violence in the country, among other demands.
In this sense, this Monday’s protest was also called for by the death of Javier Ordóñez, 46, who died in a clinic in Bogotá, after being subjected to brutally by two policemen during his arrest the early morning of September 9 in the Colombian capital.
The death of Ordóñez unleashed violent demonstrations in several cities of the country against police abuse, days in which at least 13 people lost their lives, firearm shooting victims.